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Climate activists take to the streets Tuesday in one of the largest coordinated demonstrations about global warming since millions of young people around the world walked out of their classrooms in 2019 to urge their governments to do more to tackle the climate crisis. Except that this time it’s not young people who are taking the lead, it’s baby boomers.
The baby boomer generation, usually defined as everyone born between 1946 and 1964, has far more wealth than their children and grandchildren. Baby boomers are almost nine times richer than millennials and more than 27 times richer than Gen Zers, with most of that wealth coming in the form of home equity and pension funds, according to the latest available census data. That makes them ideal candidates when it comes to pressuring banks and other financial institutions to stop funding the development of new fossil fuels, says Third Act, the organization coordinating Tuesday’s protests.
“Until now, kids have had to do all the work and they have done an amazing job, but it would be unfair to ask 18-year-olds to solve this problem,” Bill McKibben, prominent climate activist who founded Third Act. , as well as 350.org, The Guardian reported over the weekend. “In older people, money and structural power fly out of our ears. We have to show young people that we have their back.”
According to Act Three, which is a reference to someone who is old enough to be in their “third act” of life, there are over 100 climate protests scheduled throughout the day in more than two dozen states, as well as Washington. District of Columbia and parts of Canada. Their target is America’s largest banks, which continue to fund new fossil fuel development at record levels, even as scientists warn in a landmark new report that “the window of opportunity to secure a livable and sustainable future for all is fast closing.”
U.S. banks remain the largest fossil fuel financiers, with just four of them — JPMorgan Chase, Citi, Wells Fargo and Bank of America — accounting for a quarter of all global industry funding, according to a 2022 analysis. environmental non-profit Rainforest Action Network. The report says that between 2016 and 2021, these four banks have invested more than $1.2 trillion in the fossil fuel sector, and also notes that Citi provides the most money to develop new oil and gas fields in both the Amazon rainforest. as well as in African countries.
But on Tuesday, Third Act demonstrators, many in their 60s and older, will unleash their pressure campaign to urge banks to quickly pull back on investment in projects that expand fossil fuel use. The organization currently has over 50,000 members.
“We will be in and out of the branches of these four banks across America, slicing credit cards, sitting in lobbies and generally trying to get people to understand that for any American with more than $125,000 in the mainstream banking system, there is likely to be more carbon than all the activities in their daily lives,” McKibben, 62, wrote in a recent post.
In December, Act Three celebrated a pledge by HSBC, Europe’s largest bank by total assets, to stop financing new oil and gas fields following ongoing pressure from activists. The group said the move should set a new precedent for US banks.
In an email interview with Inside Climate News, McKibben said Tuesday’s protests take on even greater significance in light of the ongoing global banking crisis fueled by the collapse of two U.S. regional banks earlier this month, as well as a grim new report released on Monday by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on climate change.
Public concern about the stability of the global banking system has risen significantly since the collapse of California’s Silicon Valley Bank and New York’s Signature Bank earlier this month, prompting rapid government intervention that sent a series of banking fears sweeping across the financial sector. In an effort to secure their finances, many account holders have begun transferring their money from smaller banks to larger ones. Warning that the world is still far from meeting its global climate commitments, an IPCC report released on Monday also notes that private funding “for fossil fuels is still larger than funding for climate change adaptation and mitigation.”
That means JPMorgan Chase, Citi, Wells Fargo and Bank of America are likely to grow even more in the coming years, McKibben said, and how all that money is spent could ultimately determine whether humanity can avoid the worst. global warming in the coming years. coming decades. “These four banks are the world’s four largest sponsors of fossil fuel expansion,” McKibben told me. “That’s what the IPCC has in mind when it says there are no more excuses for inaction.”
More top climate news
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Biden uses his first veto to block the Republican wake-up investment bill: President Joe Biden cast his first veto on Monday to defeat legislation recently passed by Congress that would prohibit pension fund managers from considering the long-term impact of social factors and climate change when making investment decisions, Rebecca Morin and Jessica Guyn report for USA Today. The legislation is part of a wider GOP war against what they call “awakened capitalism,” with lawmakers arguing that financial institutions are prioritizing the fight against global warming over their fiduciary duties.
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